Nobel Life – Stefano Sandrone

Published by: Cambridge University Press
Pages: 230
Date released: 17/06/2021
Date read: 14/06/2021

Few people have changed the world like the Nobel Prize winners. Their breakthrough discoveries have revolutionised medicine, chemistry, physics and economics. Nobel Life consists of original interviews with twenty-four Nobel Prize winners. Each of them has a unique story to tell. They recall their eureka moments and the challenges they overcame along the way, give advice to inspire future generations, and discuss what remains to be discovered. Engaging and thought-provoking, Nobel Life provides an insight into life behind the Nobel Prize winners. A call from Stockholm turned a group of twenty-four academics into Nobel Prize winners. This is their call to the next generations worldwide.

Thanks to NetGalley and Cambridge University Press for the advanced reader copy of this book in receipt of an honest review.


I don’t pretend to be intelligent enough to fully understand and appreciate what it takes to win, and what it must mean to win, a Nobel prize, but I do like to learn, especially about things I know nothing about.

Nobel Life discusses topics such as chemical reactions, molecular biology, economics, spectroscopy, infections, biological proteins, cell reviews, structural biology, neuroscience, psychology, biochemistry, astronomy and cosmology. So, very intense stuff.

There is one question asked to everyone in this book which I really like which was “where were you when the call from Stockholm came?” It’s here you realise that these are just everyday people going about their everyday business, who suddenly get their professional life turned upside down by this honour.

What I did feel was missing in this book was an introductory paragraph to each individual, instead of jumping straight into questions. Several times I had to Google who the person was in order to get some background information. It needn’t be much, but just an introduction saying something like “Mr Fake Name, born in 1962 in Peru, won the Nobel Prize in 1992 for his discovery of XYZ”. To me, this would give it more context and therefore more understanding.

Whilst I found the Q&A format a bit blocky at times and irrelevant to prior or following questions, I did find the format overall very easy to understand for a non-technical person who hasn’t studied science for 13 years. I feel a heavier more detailed piece of prose might have been harder to wrap my head around.

The e-book version I read did not have any imagery in. I can’t say if the printed copy will, but I think it definitely needs some, even if it’s just a photo of the person in question to bring back the human element behind this prize.

Overall, I think they could be on to something with making this a series of books. Maybe a different book for each Nobel Prize discipline such as medicine or literature. Maybe a book for just female winners, or even a kid-friendly book.

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